Self Care

What Recovering From Anorexia Is Like

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This is the third time that I’m in residential treatment for my eating disorder and it seems more difficult than the other times. Okay, maybe that’s not true. The first time was the worst. Learning how to eat again and becoming an intuitive eater was difficult when I was rigid and inflexible. I’m faced with a new challenge this time: preserving my sanity when I’m surrounded by memories of what my first days in recovery were like.

Being here isn’t easy, I’ve never felt so exhausted before. Hours of being tortured with a slew of scheduled meals along with being bombarded with sick thoughts  makes me feel constantly fatigued. I’m so overwhelmed, I ran out and sprinted around a field to release the anxious energy. The dietitian yelled after me, reminding me that this kind of exertion coupled with restriction is bad for my heart. I don’t care if it’s bad for my heart. I don’t know what’s good or bad for my heart, but I need an outlet to release this restlessness inside of me.

At this point in my life, I consider myself an intuitive eater. I relish in the world of recovery. The past few months have been stressful since the death of a close friend. I didn’t know how to cope with the loss. Slowly, week by week, I watched myself shrivel. Restricting my food intake wasn’t motivated by diet culture or my own beliefs. I’ve accepted my body at whatever size it wants to be as long as I’m properly nourishing it. Gone are the days of struggling with a negative body image coupled with body dysmorphia. The days of feeling too stressed to eat feel like they’re here to stay and I need to figure out how to get through that.

I know I offer a pro-recovery viewpoint that helps the people around me but hearing their thoughts makes me feel sick again. The thing is, I am sick again.

It’s hard to watch people struggle through something you’ve already gone through and learned from. All I care about is gaining weight so I can go home and be with my puppy. I know I offer a pro-recovery viewpoint that helps the people around me but hearing their thoughts makes me feel sick again. The thing is, I am sick again. That’s why we’re all here. I lack the motivation to eat well and being here makes me stick to a routine that usually proves effective until the next traumatic thing happens. I need to learn how to cope through any situation life throws at me without resorting to restricting.

My roommate says I look like the sickest one here. I don’t disagree with that statement, but at the same time, I know I have the healthiest mindset out of everyone around me. I’m embracing recovery with open arms and everyone else is struggling to come to the realizations I’ve made myself believe. It’s difficult to have made so much progress mentally but to still be struggling physically. I’m not worried about gaining weight because that’s why I’m here. I worry about how being around these negative thoughts will impact my own psyche.

The therapist tried to challenge me and say that maybe it’d be good for the group to receive my input and I couldn’t help but have a rebuttal to that. It might help other people, but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here for myself, I’m not here to be an inspiration for recovery for other people. I find myself constantly being bombarded by toxicity and needing to actively speak against those thoughts is tiring. I’ve found that I’m not willing to sacrifice my health at the expense of myself just so that other people can find inspiration in my recovery.

I need help when it comes to coping with negative emotions because that’s when my eating disorder tends to appear. Sitting through a group that focuses on things I’ve already challenged in my recovery isn’t helpful to me. The biggest struggle of being in treatment this time around is that I don’t feel like I relate to a lot of the things others are struggling with. I constantly feel worn down from having to hear everyone else’s struggles surrounding themselves. I don’t remember feeling so impacted by it before but that’s because I could relate to those struggles, we were all in the same place mentally. In recovery, those thoughts have left me. I’ve been unburdened.

Every meal is a battle and I’ll be damned if my anorexia wins.

Committing to this is more difficult than ever. I want to run from this place and never look back so I could be away from the toxicity. At the same time, I need this place to help me back to where I was before. I know I’m doing the work necessary to get there but a lot of the time I just want to keep my headphones in so I don’t have to hear anyone’s voice. I’m constantly having to protect myself from their intrusive thoughts so they don’t turn into mine. I refuse to be sick so I’m putting in the work. Every meal is a battle and I’ll be damned if my anorexia wins.

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Valeria Castaneda

Valeria Castaneda

Valeria Castaneda is a 27 year old San Jose native that loves to write, learn about neuroscience, and play with her puppy. If you’re interested in her daily happenings you can follow her on Instagram.